The IRC code says that receptacle boxes "shall be flush with the finished surface."
Receptacle boxes installed post facto to the construction of the house are often incorrectly done.
There are many reasons for that - possible damage to the box or receptacle, looseness developing over time, the escape of a spark - many reasons.
Who knows the history here.
This is new phone/cable/internet equipment installed near the electrical panel box.
Was the receptacle installed to accommodate that equipment, or did the equipment installers cut the paneling to accommodate the receptacle box to plug in their equipment?
I would bet on the former. It is not usual that any of the new dish or internet installers would want to get involved with cutting paneling, splitting wiring, installing a new receptacle box and then sealing it all up when they are done. The wall was painted recently, so any other damage was covered by that.
The equipment people may have come and said they needed a new receptacle here or there and the homeowner complied.
But aside from being odd looking, it is incorrect.
See how the box extends nearly 1/2" from the wall? Incorrect. For the reasons stated at the top of the post.
My problem with this? Aside from proper installation, it usually means that the receptacle box, and therefore the wiring behind, was installed by a non professional! And therefore without a permit.
Who did it? Where did they get the wiring from? Is there a splice somewhere behind that section cut out of the paneling? Tarzan no like.
My clients are in another state. They are investors for whom I have done many inspections. They are VERY risk averse, necessarily. The house has not been occupied for some time. They will have to have all my concerns investigated. Which is no problem - they are used to doing this. But it should be done.
My recommendation: when some things look odd, they probably are! You are used to seeing things that are properly done, which is why the odd stands out. If you see any oddity on a home inspection, ask! And if it is wrong the home inspector will observe and report.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560